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Pic @paulschmitphotography "Reflections on Europa"
This shot has been reverberating through my consciousness for well over a month, and last week, I finally had a chance to get it out of my system. While planning this telephoto nightscape (or "deepscape," to use Ralf's parlance), I thought capturing the reflections of a Mars-rise would add an extra degree of surrealism to this classic "lone-tree" composition. Luckily, my favorite wildlife refuge in northern New Mexico offers just such an arrangement. Over the last few weeks, Mars has briefly flirted with the Rho Ophiuchi cloud complex in the early morning hours before sunrise. Had I attempted this shot a week earlier, the placement of these two objects would have been even more compact, but family illnesses and professional obligations delayed my plans for a week, forcing me to recompose at a wider angle, since Mars actually moves quite quickly across the sky! The morning of the shoot, I woke up at midnight on 2 hours of sleep and made my journey down to the refuge. Spare the geese, cranes, and a handful of cougars and bobcats that thankfully steered clear of my location, I had the whole place to myself while I set up my gear and watched this scene slowly unfold.
While reviewing and processing the images, I couldn't help but think of a recent story I had heard related to the eventual demise of our solar system. When the sun finally begins consuming its last bit of hydrogen fuel and enters the red giant stage, the inner solar system will eventually be consumed by its bloating exterior. At that time, the watery moons of the gas giant planets, including the famous satellite of Jupiter, Europa, could see their icy crusts melt, revealing massive water oceans that may briefly offer life one more chance to flourish. However, such a scenario would undoubtedly look entirely alien to our familiar terrestrial existence. This scene, hinting at the presence of life amidst a vast, lonely, aqueous expanse complimented by a glimpse of Mars (also a nearest-neighbor of Jupiter) and our home galaxy, may very well resemble what daily "life" on Europa could become in our very distant future.
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